Harambee Starlets had a day to forget as the Council for East and Central Africa Football Associations (Cecafa) Women’s Championship kicked off at Nyamirambo Stadium in Kigali, Rwanda yesterday, falling to arch rivals Crested Cranes of Uganda 1-0.
This is Starlets’ first loss to Uganda in the recent past.
“This is football and anything can happen. My players played well but we did not convert the many chances we had in the first half. In the second half, Uganda did not engage in open play, they were out to defend their goal. However, we cannot dwell on the loss and we have to look forward and bounce back from this result,” said head coach David Ouma after the match.
Uganda drew first blood in the 17th minute through a Lilian Mutuuzo goal. The diminutive player got on the end of a corner kick that had been softly punched out by Starlets’ goalkeeper Pauline Atieno as she looped the ball past the custodian.
Starlets had hopes of scoring an equaliser in the 13th minute after the ball was handled inside the box, with replays clearly showing the violation, but the referee would hear none of captain Neddy Atieno’s complaints.
Starlets pressed on and Atieno scored what would have been the leveller in the 15th minute but the goal was ruled offside. Two minutes later, Mwanahalima Adam beat two defenders and the goalkeeper only to be denied by the post as she attempted to slot in from the right wing.
In the 24th and 36th minutes, Cynthia Shilwatso and Terry Engesha had chances to salvage Kenya’s situation but sent their shots over the bar, with another of Atieno’s goals in the 37th minute being ruled offside, the match heading to the breather with Uganda leading.
Ten minutes into the second half, Ouma introduced senior team debutant Martha Amunyolete for Mercy Achieng and Essy Akida for Engesha but the changes made little difference.
Starlets would score again in the 78th minute through Amunyolete but the referee ruled her offside once more, crushing any hopes of an equaliser for Kenya who face holder Tanzania tomorrow.